Tuesday, April 20, 2010
"Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink"
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Coleridge, 1798
I wonder if Samuel Coleridge ever thought way back then that this quote was soon going to be relevant to more than just mariners? This Earth Week is a good time to contemplate the water we have, the water we've had and the water we will never have.
Water is the most precious commodity on this planet, without it nothing on Earth could survive. There is not a single living thing that doesn't need water in some form or another. 70% of this planet is water, so you would think we have plenty, but consider that only 4% of that water is useable, freshwater, and you begin to realise that we need to start being a bit more concerned. The worlds population is growing, the amount of water being used is increasing and water resources are decreasing. That's not a balanced equation, even for this bear of "little math brain".
2010 sees us smack bang in the middle of the United Nations "Water for Life" program, a program started in 2005 to face the worldwide water crisis. Everyday people die from the lack of clean, safe, useable water. Alongside our increasing needs for water resources, we are seeing more intense and longer lasting droughts in more parts of the globe making many regular freshwater supplies unavailable, some forever. On top of all of this, the grasping of water resources by greedy global companies, privatizing what should be a basic human right, is meaning what clean water there is, is becoming harder, and more expensive, to obtain.
If you haven't seen Blue Gold, I highly recommend it. It opened my eyes.
So what can we do to move in the right direction? The first big, easy, one is to oppose any further privatization of water resources anywhere around the world, not just in your backyard. The other is to be careful with the water you have - mostly simple and easy, and will save money too so has a good incentive. Shorter showers (I have a 4 minute timer, and it's really plenty of time!), no running taps, fix leaks, water gardens sensibly, low flow toilets (or a brick in the tank!) - you name it. Anytime you use water, just think of how you might be able to use even a touch less.
To help, here is a cool calculator, to see how much water your household uses. I use around 71 gallons a day. Seems huge, though the average is 80-100 gallons, and in some of the poorest parts of the world, people barely have 10% of that to use everyday for drinking, cooking and washing.